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Holly Hofmann: Flutopia

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P>This is the third album Holly Hofmann has recorded for Azica Records. All of them team Hofmann and with Bill Cunliffe and his Hammond B3 organ. Hofmann is one of the few who started with the flute and stuck with it as her only instrument, rather than it being an adjunct to the sax.

The flute is jazz is a relatively recent development. It was only after 1950 that it was regularly as part of jazz groups. Wayman Carter was the most well known user of the instrument before 1950. But then along came the likes of Frank Wess, Buddy Collette, Herbie Mann, Frank Lloyd and others bringing the instrument to the attention of jazz fans. Nonetheless, most consider it their subsidiary instrument adjunct to the saxophone. One reason is that the flute has limitations as solo instrument. The lack of versatility and flexibility limits its ability for improvisation. Listeners often find it difficult to have many helpings of flute at one sitting. The flute is far more successful as part of the ensemble and has played an important role in Latin rhythm.

Hofmann, to her credit, apparently recognizes the instrument's limitation. Despite her virtuosity and skill, and that this is her album, she doesn't get as much playing time on it as Bill Cunliffe and his Hammond. On the first two tracks, the organ and guitar intro was so lengthy, it was questionable whether she would appear at all. "Satin Doll" provides an opportunity for excellent exchange of choruses and ideas between Bill Cunliffe and Frank Potenza's guitar with superb underpinning provided by Duncan Moore's drums, all without Hofmann. She makes up for this on a lovely, melodic rendition of "My One and Only Love". While the flute is not the swingiest instrument on the bandstand, when placed in the proper context it can be sprightly. Hofmann demonstrates that with some excellent playing on such tunes as Mike Wofford's "Further Adventures" and Bill Cunliffe's "Flutopia". It is because Hofmann doesn't try to force the solo work that makes this a very attractive album. One of the better practitioners of the flute on today's jazz scene, Hofmann's third album is recommended.

Tracks:Flutopia; Nilesology; Tom Thumb; Listen Up; My One and Only Love; Further Adventures; Satin Doll; Cleveburg; Out of the Night

Personnel: Holly Hofmann - Flute; Frank Potenza - Guitar; Bill Cunliffe - Hammond B3 Organ; Duncan Moore - Drums

Record Label: Azica Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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